Anatomy of a flop

Trump had big hopes for the summit with his dear friend Kim. He thought his charisma would win all the cards.

In a dinner at the Metropole Hotel the evening before, mere feet from the bomb shelter where guests took cover during the Vietnam War, Mr. Kim had resisted what Mr. Trump presented as a grand bargain: North Korea would trade all its nuclear weapons, material and facilities for an end to the American-led sanctions squeezing its economy.

An American official later described this as “a proposal to go big,” a bet by Mr. Trump that his force of personality, and view of himself as a consummate dealmaker, would succeed where three previous presidents had failed.

More reasonable people knew that wouldn’t fly, but that’s beside the point.

Several of Mr. Trump’s own aides, led by national security adviser John R. Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, thought the chances of a grand bargain for total nuclear disarmament were virtually zero. Some questioned whether the summit meeting should go forward.

Mr. Trump disagreed. He had taken to showing what he called Mr. Kim’s “beautiful letters” to visitors to the Oval Office, as evidence he had built a rapport with one of the world’s most brutal dictators. While some in the White House worried Mr. Trump was being played, the president seemed entranced — even declaring “we fell in love.”

He’s so dumb. It never ceases to amaze, how dumb he is.

In interviews with a half-dozen participants, it is clear Mr. Trump’s failed gambit was the culmination of two years of threats, hubris and misjudgment on both sides. Mr. Trump entered office convinced he could intimidate the man he liked to call “Little Rocket Man” with tough talk and sanctions, then abruptly took the opposite tack, overruling his aides and personalizing the diplomacy.

Dumb with the Twitter insults, and dumb with the goo-goo eyes.

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